Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Smart" growth in San Francisco?

Even though San Francisco is only the fourth most populous city in California, it is now the second most densely populated city in the US. Only New York is more densely populated, but our Planning Department, with the acquiescence of our "progressive" Board of Supervisors, is apparently determined to overtake New York.

Let's tally up the known projects and/or city plans and the number of people they will add to the city:

The Treasure Island project will eventually house 19,000 residents. 2,300 people live there now, which means a net gain of 16,700 residents for the city.

Developments in the 19th Avenue corridor---including at Parkmerced---will add 16,850 new residents to that area.

Rincon Hill will have 10,000 residents.

The Market/Octavia Plan will add 10,000 residents to the already-densely populated middle of the city.

UC's proposed housing development for the old extension property on lower Haight Street will cram another 1,000 people into that six-acre property a block off Octavia Blvd., which now carries more than 45,000 cars a day to and from the freeway through the heart of Hayes Valley.

City documents tell us that the south of Market Street area---including the Mission, Showplace Square, the Portrero, the central waterfront, and Mission Bay---will add 56,000 new residents in the next 20 years (pages 36-39).

Add up the population numbers from these projects/plans and you get a total of 110,550 new residents in a city of 800,000, which is a 14% growth in our population.

There's no serious attempt to deal with all the additional traffic in the UC project, the Market/Octavia Plan, the 19th Avenue area, or the Treasure Island project.

This is "smart growth"?

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14 Comments:

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much better if those people lived in sprawl out in the far-flung east bay.

"Get off my lawn!" - Rob

 
At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are they supposed to live?

Though frankly I'd prefer no additional housing, thus allowing rich people to continue to push out poorer people sucking on the government teat out of our fine city. Gentrification is fine with me - there should be a means test, if you don't make 6 figures, please leave the city, we don't need you.

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Typically moronic, anonymous comment. SF must deliberately create gridlock in the city to avoid suburban sprawl?

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charge for parking at the new buildings. Charge market rate for parking around the city. Have the MTC set up regional parking standards.

Free (or cheap) parking on both ends of a car trip encourages driving. Don't want gridlock, discourage driving.

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bike lanes, not cars, cause congestion.

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't a bikes vs. cars problem. This isn't a city vs. suburbs problem. It's not even a parking.

The fundamental problem here is the lack of a functional public transportation system. Given a functional public transit system, all the other problems go away.

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cars are a major reason for Muni delays - enforce dedicated transit lanes and the problem goes away.

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The fundamental problem here is the lack of a functional public transportation system."

It functions, more or less. But it's chronically underfunded, and it surely doesn't have enough slack to handle all the development the city is encouraging, based on the "transit corridors," transit-first ideas, but we don't have a good enough transit system to make it work properly.

The city is allowing a lot of new housing in, for example, the Market/Octavia area and in the 19th Street corridor under the assumption that somehow these transit corridors can handle all the additional traffic.

As I pointed out in my post on the 19th Avenue Corridor Study, that document tells us that all that development is going to make traffic a lot worse there, even after implementing the transportation projects that are supposed to mitigate all the added traffic.

It's a form of destructive idealism: take a plausible, well-intentioned idea---housing along major traffic corridors---and apply it clumsily and inappropriately. The city's Planning Department operates on the assumption that you can significantly increase population density in the city without degrading our quality of life.

Only the Great Recession---which has made it harder to finance development projects---has prevented this theory from being thoroughly applied---so far.

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With muni drivers caught texting while driving, at least TWICE, and the unions protecting their ass and jobs, do you think we will EVER have

a

decent

public

transit

system?

EVER????????

 
At 3:19 AM, Blogger Alai said...

There's a big difference in time scale. Buildings could be here for a hundred years. Major improvements to Muni could be made in five, or less. Making 100-year development decisions based on the current state of Muni is short sighted.

 
At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob doesn't care about the future.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Evidently I care more about the future of the city than you do, Anon. I write about the city on this blog and, unlike you, I put my name on my opinions. The whole point of this post: all the projects the city is allowing---especially Parkmerced, the M/O Plan, and Treasure Island---will make traffic a lot worse on city streets, including delaying a number of Muni lines. And even as these traffic-snarling projects move through the system toward implementation, City Hall is deliberately making it more diffult for people to drive in the city.

 
At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitching about the city via blog = caring? Ha.

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I care enough to put my name on my opinions.

 

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